Syria Regional Refugee Response
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Europe (Asylum Seekers)


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Austrian couple make Syrian guest part of the family
UNHCR, 01/09/2016
BAD SCHALLERBACH, Austria – When they go shopping in the small Austrian town of Bad Schallerbach, Martina Schamberger introduces Nawras Ahmadook as her son. The arguments they have in the grocery store are typical of those between a parent and child. Nawras heads straight for the junk food, and Martina tries to restrain him. “That’s probably the only time Martina wanted to raise her voice at me,” said Nawras, a 26-year-old refugee from Syria, who is just under two metres tall. Despite their differences over nutrition, their bond is tight. “I feel like he is my son,” said Martina with pride. “He accepts me, a bit different than his mother. He opens up to me a lot, like a friend too. We have been together seven months now and never had a big fight.” Their connection dates back to 2006, when Martina’s daughter, Valerie, was studying Arabic in Aleppo, Syria. Nawras’s...
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Architect helps Syrian trio build new lives in Sweden
UNHCR, 01/09/2016
MALMÖ, Sweden – Architect Lars Asklund, who is affectionetly known as Jim, was deeply moved by the images on television of thousands of people arriving in Sweden in 2015. He wanted to help, but did not know how. First, he went to the migration authorities in Malmö and told them he had two empty guest rooms. Nothing happened. Then he went to a nearby asylum centre where new arrivals were being processed and housed temporarily. He approached a young man who had a small child, but was reluctant to take on the responsibility of housing a child. So he turned to the man standing behind, Waleed Lababidi, who had been translating. “I asked him three questions: ‘Are you married?’ He said yes. ‘Do you have kids?’ He said no. I looked him straight in the eye and asked: ‘Are you a fundamentalist?’ He said no. I told him ‘Okay, I have a good proposal for you’.” Waleed, 29,...
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Jewish family open their Berlin home to Muslim refugee
UNHCR, 01/09/2016
BERLIN, Germany – Every Friday evening, the Jellinek family gather for a Shabbat dinner at their home in central Berlin. Chaim, his wife Kyra and three of their four children sit around a candlelit table to recite blessings over wine and good food. This year, their weekly tradition has included an unlikely guest. Twenty-eight-year-old Kinan, a Syrian Muslim, has been living with the Jellineks since November 2015. He joins them for Shabbat most Fridays and often cooks Syrian meals that he has learned to make by watching videos on YouTube. Kinan, who prefers to be known only by his first name, used to work in marketing and pharmaceuticals in Damascus. He left Syria in July 2015 to avoid military service because, he said, he did not want to take up arms against his own people. He went first to Turkey and then Greece. After arriving in Germany in August 2015, he initially stayed in mote...
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Berlin couple go from hosts to surrogate parents
UNHCR, 01/09/2016
BERLIN, Germany – Manuela and Jörg Buisset knew they had to help when they saw hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving in their hometown of Berlin during summer 2015. Images in the news showed long queues of people, many living on the streets without shelter. The Buissets had just finished renovating their modern basement apartment and were planning to rent it out. Instead, they signed up to offer temporary housing for refugees with the non-profit Berlin Refugee Council. A few weeks later, Manuela, 54, received a call saying there was a family in need of a place to stay. Ahmed, 28, his wife Nourhan, 20, and their two-year-old daughter, Alin, had recently arrived from Syria. They had vouchers for motels, but there were no vacancies. Manuela said they did not expect to be hosting a family. “We would have preferred a young woman alone, but in this situation you cannot say no,”...
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Quiet librarian and outspoken Syrian artist form unlikely bond
UNHCR, 01/09/2016
MALMÖ, Sweden – Alqumit Alhamad is Syrian, Muslim and gay. He arrived in Sweden on a snowy day last February with a small backpack containing a change of clothes, some art supplies and CDs of Lady Gaga, Björk and Barbra Streisand. “Guards across Europe always looked at me weird when they searched my bag,” he said. “But I don’t care. I can’t live without my music.” The 24-year-old artist fled Raqqa, in northern Syria, in 2012 when extremists made the city their headquarters. Alqumit and his family went first to the port of Latakia, and he commuted to Aleppo to finish university. After missiles landed on campus he fled to Turkey, then to Europe via Greece in November 2015. When he arrived in Sweden, he stayed at an LGBT certified camp in Västerås. Three months later, he met Linnea Tell through a friend and an organization called Refugees Welcome, which helps connect re...
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Relocation and Resettlement: EU Member States urgently need to deliver
European Commission, 12/04/2016
Strasbourg, 12 April 2016 Relocation and Resettlement: EU Member States urgently need to deliver Today, the Commission gives an update on the progress made up until 11 April 2016 and assesses the actions undertaken by Member States to implement the emergency relocation and European resettlement schemes. Overall, progress since the Commission's first report has been unsatisfactory: on relocation, little progress has been made since mid-March, while we see good progress on resettlement. Good progress on resettlement is also the result of the EU-Turkey agreement which has shifted greater focus onto resettlement efforts. Greater efforts on relocation, however, are increasingly urgent in view of the humanitarian situation in Greece. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “EU Member States need to urgently deliver on their political and...
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Geneva conference on Syrian refugees ends with new pledges of places, recognition of challenges ahead
UNHCR, 30/03/2016
An international meeting in Geneva on the plight of Syrian refugees concluded today with new offers of resettlement places and other forms of humanitarian admission places by States, but also highlighting the challenges over the next three years in narrowing the gap between the number of places countries are willing to offer for Syrian refugees and the number UNHCR believes is urgently required. In his closing remarks High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi spoke of the conference having achieved "a clear recognition of the need for solidarity and responsibility-sharing for refugees". But he also reminded delegates of the wider global displacement context and the immense challenges ahead, including finding a political settlement for Syria, and dealing with ongoing displacement and secondary flows from conflicts elsewhere. "I am under no illusion that we are appealing for this...
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European Council Conclusions on migration
European Council, 18/02/2016
II. MIGRATION 4. In response to the migration crisis facing the EU, the objective must be to rapidly stem the flows, protect our external borders, reduce illegal migration and safeguard the integrity of the Schengen area. As part of this comprehensive approach, the European Council assessed, on the basis of detailed reports from the Presidency and the Commission, the state of implementation of the orientations agreed in December. 5. The European Council welcomes NATO's decision to assist in the conduct of reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance of illegal crossings in the Aegean sea and calls on all members of NATO to support this measure actively. The EU, in particular FRONTEX, should closely cooperate with NATO. 6. The full and speedy implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan remains a priority, in order to stem migration flows and to tackle traffickers and smugglers net...
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Grandi meets with Syrian refugees at Berlin centre
UNHCR, 18/02/2016
BERLIN, Germany, Feb 18 (UNHCR) – The International Congress Center (ICC) in Berlin – a stout and futuristic landmark building – was formally the venue for large trade fairs. It now serves as the temporary home of almost 600 asylum seekers mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. On his first visit to Germany as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited the ICC emergency shelter run by the NGO Malteser Hilfsdienst to receive a first-hand impression of the situation. "Germany has seen a large influx of asylum seekers over the last year and has led by example in providing a safe haven to hundreds of thousands desperate people escaping the world's war zones", he said. "It is good to be on the ground and meet both the people affected as well as the many professionals and volunteers supporting them." Among 300 families using the makeshift shelter ...
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Co-hosts declaration from the Supporting Syria & the Region Conference, London 2016
Supporting Syria and the region -London 2016, 04/02/2016
Thursday 4 February 2016 1. The leaders of Germany, Kuwait, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United Nations have today hosted the “Supporting Syria & the Region 2016” Conference in London, bringing together over 60 countries, international organisations, business, civil society, Syrians and people affected by the conflict to agree a comprehensive new approach on how we respond to this protracted crisis, building on the 2014 Berlin Conference and the three Kuwait Pledging Conferences. 2. As we enter the sixth year of this conflict in which widespread violations of International Humanitarian Law continue, the humanitarian situation is worse than ever before. With more than 250,000 people killed, 1.2 million injured and 6.5 million people displaced, there are now 13.5 million vulnerable people inside Syria alone. Over 4.5 million refugees from Syria have fled to neighbouring cou...
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